I am feeling very artisitc today! The lovely new Nauga News area of Gentleworld.com inspired me to redecorate my living quarters at my home-planet. So I thought I must fly here today to speak to the creator of Gentleworld.com, and all-round creative, Kaoru Sato.
Let’s get lounging and our creative juices flowing with a few words about Kaoru. In between his own albums, Kaoru came up with the look and feel not only for the current Gentle People site and my very own Nauga News, but also, the original site and some Gentle People music artwork.
By the way, if you haven’t seen me on Simply Faboo or any of The Gentle People cover artwork, you can see some of it on iTunes
Now let’s meet the star of today’s interview.
Nauga: Hello Kaoru and welcome to my Nauga home from home here on earth, my lounge of love!
KS: Hello. It’s wonderful to be back. Have you decorated since I was last here?
Nauga: Indeed! The new look Gentleworld.com is a fabulous creation. The Naugae of my home planet are particularly pleased to see me promoted to the home page and to get my own news area. They are also very interested to find out more about you as a musician, writer and artist.
KS: I’m glad I’m helping spread the Nauga message! If your kind can spread your message of love through your appearance on the pages I’ve designed then I am, of course, more than happy.
Now then, about me. Well, how long do you have? I could quite literally go on for hours on the subject as it is one that’s close to my heart.
I’ve always been, shall we say, undecided about where I stand – am I a musician, a designer, a writer, an artist, male, female, British, Japanese? I’d say that 99% of my work comes from those conflicts. I design websites like a programmer. I make music like an artist. I’m a man who dresses like a woman. It’s not that I’m trying to work stuff out. I enjoy sitting in the tramlines as you never know which track you’ll jump onto next.
My day job is as a designer or as a digital creative and I think I’m pretty good at that, but I’d say that my main passion is music. I spend almost all my social time going to see new music – London is a great place to live for that! And ever since my youth I’ve been in a succession of bands, none of which have made much money. But they’ve taken me places and given me experiences that I wouldn’t trade for all the money in the world.
Probably the most significant to me are Deathline, my current band and Six Inch Killaz, from the 90s, for entirely different reasons.
Six Inch Killaz (tagline: “tranny punks on the verge of rock n roll chaos”) was like a car crash in slow motion. We were constantly tearing ourselves apart, but there was a tremendous sense of excitement about what we were doing.
Deathline (tagline: “rock noir”) is brilliant as I’ve found a musical soul mate, Jennie, with whom we make music that is a synthesis of all the music that we’ve loved in our lives with our own idiosyncracies thrown in. And it’s probably the most financially successful of all the bands I’ve been in which is nice – to be “recognised in the wallet” as it were…
Then there’s the transgender stuff of course. I’ve done a lot of writing on my long-lived blog about my experience of being Miss K, “transgendered z-list sleb”. It’s all out there. I’m most pleased with the creative writing – there’s a cycle of short stories and one webcomic on there that I think are well worth the time to read, dear Nauga.
Nauga: What an array of talent – rather like my good self (smiles) Now, what we really want to know is how you manage to do so many creative things from music, art to writing not only for your own projects but also for others like The Gentle People? Do you have a time machine?
KS: You’re funny, Nauga. Time machines are a causal impossibility! No, I perfected human cloning a few years ago. You see, as well as having several identities, there are also several copies of me scattered around the world amongst whom I distribute certain less edifying tasks like cleaning, accounts, day job etc.
No, actually, as people in the know will tell you, the real secret is that I never sleep. There is a touch of the vampires about me.
Nauga: Aha! I see. Returning to Gentleworld, apart from featuring me, which was no doubt one of your better decisions, what else influenced your designs for Gentleworld.com?
KS: It came originally from the rich widescreen visuals of JM’s amazing video for H20. That demanded a very visually rich presentation.The Gentle People’s world is pretty colourful and swirly anyway so it suited them to have the website reflect that. Also, the Gentles are also pretty classy at times, when they haven’t got themselves a bit squiffy on fabulous cocktails, and I think I wanted to make it look equally classy (and a bit squiffy).
Nauga: Squiffy? That’s a new word for us Naugae to learn to love (smiles). As you know, I always have to appear wherever The Gentle People go to make sure they are spreading as much love via their music as possible. Apart from my news area, what other things do you think are really important when presenting musicians online? And do you take inspiration from any particular designers or digital manifestos in your online work?
KS: Obviously you have to make musicians look and sound as good as possible. If I’m anything to go by we are a stupendously vain race of people. This is untrue of the Gentle People of course, who are an unusually wholesome lot and unsullied by vanity. So in their case, I just make sure they are supplied with the aforementioned cocktails and other fabulous baubles. And cheese. Plenty of cheese.
In fact I can’t think of any creative problems that can’t be solved using a particularly whiffy cheese.
I happen to know that my favourite music related designer, Peter Saville, who designed all those iconic Factory Records sleeves, posters and flyers was fond of a Gouda or two. And my biggest influence of all in all ways of life, that incomparable artist Andy Warhol, was often seen with a runny Camembert stashed under one of his many wigs.
This is all true.
Nauga: I am delighted to hear about the Camembert wig but I must say it makes me rather peckish. I am delighted that you found a way to showcase the lyrics to my favourite Gentle People song – Naughty Nauga. What do you like most about the new Gentleworld.com what are you most proud of technically?
KS: Ah, you’re talking about the lines you speak when people hover over your grinning visage on the Gentleworld.com site. Yes, that is a rather nifty feature. I’m actually most pleased with the “Fromage Lounge” section which presents the rather complex Gentle People discography in a pretty easy to navigate fashion. More of a usability feature than a technical one I suppose but then your audience is the most important thing, eh?
Nauga: Very good. I adopted The Gentle People many years ago, they are now actually honorary Naugae. I am really quite fond of them even with their penchant for Primula. How did you come across The Gentle People?
KS: Ah well, that is a long old story… lights pipe and sits back. Swirly time effect…
It started back in the mists of prehistory when normal people didn’t have email addresses or mobile phones (it was about 1995, dear reader). But these were momentous times. I was a first jobbing fledgling web designer, newbie tranny and had just joined Six Inch Killaz – my life was opening up in front of me like a big, messy life shaped thing, with hooped earrings on.
Ahem, anyway, I digress. I believe by this time, that the Gentle entity known as Honeymink Foxmeister had decided that the human race was prepared to take the next step into cyberspace – a realm she had happily been inhabiting since before her arrival on Earth.
What better way of introducing people to the mysteries of the “information superhighway” as the Internet was rather charmingly known back then, than by materialising the Gentle planet into that domain? No better way, it turned out – I mean, look at the Internet now! It all started there.
This is where I came in. I was ushered into the groovy Gentle sanctum to discuss the birth of the very first Gentleworld.com. I was plied with exotic substances in a form very similar to strong beer. It took me to a new plane of consciousness and by the end of the evening, we had not only planned the next 20 years of Gentle web development, *and* become firm friends, but we’d also got quite squiffy in the process. Result!
That’s how it started and we’ve stayed Gentle chums ever since.
Nauga: Yes, Honeymink does have that effect! Music is really important to Naugae as the vibrations of sound waves are an important power source on our home planet. What kind of music do you love and what do you create?
KS: I like all sorts of music. Pretty eclectic, but of course my favourite kinds of music are of the dark and loud variety. I like nothing better than standing in a darkened cellar with other people dressed in black and having my eardrums pummelled by noise.
Favourites at the moment include Suicide Party from Southampton who are Gothic, Western, Surf, New wave, everything we like, Exit International, a Cardiff based power trio with twin distorted basses – incredible noise, HTRK, who sound like ice melting invisibly in the dark, and Teeth of the Sea, who are hard to describe really. But you should go and see them. Just make sure you wear ear plugs to avoid lasting damage.
The music we make as Deathline sits in among these but we have a more melodic / punky edge amongst the dark noise – probably that came from the fact that we both really like punk and hard rock as well as the dark stuff and there’s a part of us that likes shouting and jumping about as much as nodding silently in the gloom…
Nauga: Eclectic! The Gentle People told me that you have a new album underway. Do you have any songs about Naugae planned? Or is it something less intergalactic in outlook?
KS: Yes! It’s our second after our debut SixtyNine. We’ve been writing it over the last few months and completed that phase a couple of weeks ago. Now we’re in pre-production before flying out to Los Angeles to start tracking in mid-September with the amazing producer Josiah Mazzaschi at Cave Studio. We quite literally can’t wait and we believe we have a very very strong set of songs under our belt this time.
In terms of subject matter, it’s quite hard to describe it as intergalactic. It’s about Earthly monsters, human and otherwise, if anything. There is one song called Nova, an instrumental, which is about the death of stars exploding in deep space. But I wouldn’t like a nice chap like you to be anywhere near that to be honest…
Nauga: My naugahyde is strong, so no need to worry on my behalf! I recently went to the moon and had a great time dancing in zero gravity! My next trip is to the ice fields of Titan – the chill-out parties are supposed to be ultra-cool. What are your next plans as an artist, musician and writer?
KS: It would be wonderful to visit the outer planets. They seem like a fascinating if chilly place. We’ll have to settle for the warmth of LA instead! We plan to tour with the new album next year of course. I will keep you posted on that, Nauga – it would be wonderful to have you pop in backstage.
I have some top secret Internetty plans up my sleeve also, and plans to collect and publish my photography in book form. Otherwise, the music is front and centre in my future plans.
Nauga: I am looking forward to seeing your secrets! Ah, the day is now drawing to a close with a wonderful Hawaiian sunset. I think it’s time for a cocktail or two – would you care to join me? Oh almost forgot, before I get mixing, do you have a message for the all the friends, fans and extended Gentle People family?
KS: I would love any drink you can conjure up based on dark rum, thank you.
My message to the readers is that peace and love is by far the harder road to tread, but in these difficult times, we must keep trying to make things better.
Oh, and buy our album or at least add us on Facebook xx
Nauga: Thank you very much Kaoru, I will now teach you a little Nauga song to sing until we meet again.
KS: I shall set it to an arrangement of feedback guitar, overdriven bass and ominous delay drenched vocals. It’s been a tremendous pleasure. See you soon!